Fleeing attacks by the Muslim herdsmen, 262 Christians fled and sought refuge in central Nigeria in a Muslim Ceric’s home and mosque, who is being honored for showing “true brotherly love” to them.
On June 23, 2018, farmers who are Christians in 10 villages found themselves under attack, but they found relief when Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, 83, provided shelter and didn’t give in offering them up to the attackers, according to CNN.
Today, 83-year-old Nigerian Imam Abubakar Abdullahi will receive the first-ever International Religious Freedom Award of the US Govt. He hid 262 Berom Christians in his mosque and in his house in June 2018 when herdsmen launched a bloody attack on 10 villages in Plateau State. 1. pic.twitter.com/AZ8oRgX2hV
— AuduMaikori (@Audu) July 18, 2019
During Wednesday’s first-ever International Religious Freedom Awards ceremony held by the Department of State, International Religious Freedom Ambassador Sam Brownback noted that while giving the hundreds of Christians refuge, Abdullahi “stood outside the doors confronting the Muslim attackers, pleading with them to spare the lives of the Christians inside, even offering to exchange his own life for theirs.”
Brownback labeled the actions one’s of “true courage, true selflessness, and true brotherly love.”
At the ceremony, which “[honors] extraordinary advocates of religious freedom,” Abdullahi was honored with 2019 the International Religious Freedom Award — who was able to attend the event — along with several other religious leaders. The four others that were honored with an award were from Sudan, Cyprus, Brazil, and Iraq.
Watch the video below:
“Your presence here underscores the fact that faith matters — the right to worship, to assemble, to practice, and to teach one’s faith is undeniable,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the crowd at the ceremony. “We have a responsibility as civilized people who care about freedom, to protect it in every way that we can.”
See Pompeo’s comments below:
.@SecPompeo delivers remarks at the State Department’s first-ever International Religious Freedom Awards ceremony to honor extraordinary advocates of religious freedom from around the world. #IRFAwards pic.twitter.com/jkRevAxb7y
— Department of State (@StateDept) July 17, 2019
As the U.S. Department of State describes the 83-year-old Muslim cleric in their press release, he “selflessly risked his own life to save members of another religious community, who would have likely been killed without his intervention.”